Scotland’s cabinet secretary for energy and net zero says plans are in the pipeline for more offshore leasing rounds over the course of the current parliament.
Delivering the keynote address at the Floating Offshore Wind conference in Aberdeen on Wednesday, Michael Matheson underlined that “time is quite literally running out” for the Scottish Government to hit its emissions reduction targets.
As such, ministers have pledged to make offshore wind “central” to efforts to decarbonise Scotland’s economy.
As it stands, Holyrood is targeting 11 gigawatts (GW) of installed offshore wind capacity by the end of the decade.
In order to deliver on that ambition, Mr Matheson has confirmed there will be more Scotwind rounds within the timeframe of the current parliament, around five years.
Speaking via live stream at the event at the P&J Live, Mr Matheson said: “Scotland has one of the most challenging climate change targets in the world, with a commitment to net zero emissions by 2045 and less than a decade now to reach the 2030 target of 75% reductions in emissions as part of our pathway.
“Time is quite literally running out and offshore wind will have a significant part to play in our response to the climate emergency.
“Just last week, the First Minister set out our aim to generate 50% of Scotland’s overall energy consumption from renewable sources and to have our decarbonised energy system almost complete by 2050.”
He added: “We will make offshore wind central to our delivery of emission reducing targets through further ScotWind leasing rounds over the course of this parliament.
“That will take us well into the decade and beyond. Planning for this is already underway and I look forward to sharing details with you as we make progress.”
Scotland’s target for 11 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 feeds into the UK Government’s aim for 40 GW by the same date.
Of that 40 GW figure, the hope is that 1 GW will come from floating wind.
The first in a decade
ScotWind, the first offshore wind leasing round in Scottish waters for a decade, shut to applications in July.
Crown Estate Scotland received more than 70 bids from companies wanting to develop the next generation of wind farms north of the border.
Many of the oil and gas industry’s biggest players have confirmed their involvement in the process, which is expected to deliver billions of pounds of investment.
Results of ScotWind are expected early next year.
Mr Matheson said: “Our combination of high wind speeds and deep waters means ScotWind has the potential to be the most advanced opportunity for large-scale, commercial floating offshore wind leasing in the world.
“ScotWind could generate up to £860 million in revenue for Scotland, and potentially billions of pounds of investment over the course of the next 30 years.”
Oil and gas as a driver of change
During his speech at the RenewableUK and ScottishRenewables conference, Mr Matheson also stressed the “positive and important” role that oil and gas can have in the energy transition.
He said: “We must focus on the opportunities for diversification and skills transfer from the oil and gas sector to drive forward offshore wind skills development.
“The knowledge and expertise in the industry and the supply chain will be an initiator in developing floating offshore wind technology in Scotland.”